I am in the early stages of working on a new sculpture which I hope will challenge me on a technical front, but also help me to explore my recent experiences in Japan.
The inspiration comes from one of the rare occasions when I was able to take a break from my project at Shigaraki, to visit a traditional Japanese house.
As always in Japan, I am drawn to the extraordinary use of natural materials, and the attention paid to balancing functionality, spirit and form.
This particular house, with its deep, low thatched roof, had much in common with medieval houses in Britain, and inside there was a curious sense of familiarity.
There is something very human about these dark spaces: often the inner framework is visible and feels skeletal, appearing to both support and embrace the interior.
I also like the way these structures initially appear static and solid, but later, as we imagine the movements of their previous inhabitants, start to become fluid.
I was reminded of Ronald Blythe writing about the history of his Essex farmhouse:
'Who came here? Who helped here? Whose hands raised the new beams, and the old beams from the dust'.
These were once private spaces, so crossing the threshold always feels charged, and somehow in Japan, it felt like is a sacred act.
Being allowed to go upstairs, beyond the rope, and see the autumnal landscape framed in one of the bedrooms suddenly brought vivid light and colour into the space.
It was another moment when Japan illuminated itself. I saw briefly into its soul, and less clearly, but just as powerfully, into my own.
Ronald Blythe, At the Yeoman’s House (Enitharmon Press), 2011